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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Valencian Paella : Spain's Famous Rice Dish

Paella is a Spanish rice dish originated from the freshwater lagoon of Gulf of Valencia. It can be trace from Moorish influence specifically the improvement of Spain's irrigation system that started the country's obsession and custom of eating rice. 

This east coast dish requires specific type of rice namely Calasparra rice or Bomba rice from Murcia.  This is the perfect type of rice to use since it can absorbs up to 30% more of the broth compared to normal rice. This characteristic of the ancient strain of rice bringings consistent flavor to the paella. As an alternative, Arborio rice (short rice grains from Italy) can be use.*

Originally, Paella comes from the Catalan-Valencia word "Paelle" that means pan. Nowadays, paella are usually seen being cooked in shallow pans.

Among the three types of Paella available, I usually make Seafood paella. Although mix paella and paella Valencia are equally good, I prefer shrimp, cuttlefish and lobster to chicken meat and chorizo (pork sausage). Mussel is an important part of seafood paella but personally I sparingly add this when I cook paella.

Paella Valencia is regarded as the original recipe and traditionally includes rabbit meat, snails (genus Helix), and chicken liver. Snails’ use in French escargots or those caracoles a la madrilena can be use for making paella. Occasionally, globe artichoke, a variety of thistle flowering plant (different from the non-edible emblem of Scotland) and eels can be added in making paella.

*Note: use rice that is high in amylopectin starch contents to get the starchy taste, hard and high absorbent.

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